The Los Angeles Lakers won the biggest prize of the 2018 NBA free agency after they succeeded to sign LeBron James on a four-year, $154 million contract. However, after fulfilling their promise to bring a superstar in Los Angeles, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka earned plenty of criticisms for signing four role players whose fit with James remains a big question mark. One of the Lakers’ controversial acquisitions is Lance Stephenson.
LeBron James and Lance Stephenson have formed one of the strangest and most entertaining rivalries in the NBA. It started in 2012 when James and the Miami Heat faced the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. James beat the Pacers every time they see each other in the postseason, but Stephenson has succeeded to get himself inside LeBron’s head
The most memorable thing Lance Stephenson did was when he blew in LeBron James’ ear. Stephen’s action towards James became one of the most widely used memes in the NBA. In a recent video posted by The Score (h/t Bleacher Report), Stephenson revealed why decided to blow in LeBron’s ear.
“I was really trying to get [James] mad,” Stephenson said. “Really trying to win the game, trying to get him unfocused. I would try anything.”
Lance Stephenson succeeded with his mission to annoy LeBron James. It somewhat helped the Pacers force a Game 6 against the Heat in the Eastern Conference Playoff 2014 after James only finished with seven points and four assists in Miami’s Game 5 loss. Still, James got the last laugh as the Heat managed to reach the NBA Finals for four consecutive years.
Stephenson said that he does not have any regret with the way he acted towards James whenever they see each other inside the court. However, the 27-year-old small forward admitted that he’s also questioning himself what made him do such thing against a player like LeBron.
“I don’t regret it,” Stephenson said, “but sometimes I look at it like, ‘Why did I do that? What made me do that?'”
After spending most of his NBA career as his rival, Lance Stephenson will be entering the 2018-19 NBA season with the goal of helping LeBron James bring the Lakers back to their former glory. Most people have doubts if Stephenson and James can coexist in Los Angeles, not only because of their bad history but also because of the veteran small forward’s inability to accurately shoot the ball from the three-point range.
However, it’s worth noting that LeBron was one of the players who urged the Lakers to go after Stephenson in free agency. Only their performance in the upcoming season will prove if James and Stephenson can become good teammates or if it is better for them to stay as NBA rivals.